Penske trucks moving
Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

Of Packing and Moving — Ugh…

I helped a friend with packing and moving all day yesterday — he used to work for an airline and was scheduled to travel as a passenger on an airplane today — and at times, he was anxious and impatient.

He had already sold major items — such as his washer, dryer, refrigerator, queen-sized bed and various outdoor equipment which sat in his garage — but he still had some furniture; a massive collection of Blu-Ray discs; and expensive electronic equipment to move…

…and that was only some of the possessions which had to be collected, packaged and moved.

Of Packing and Moving — Ugh…

“What size truck do you think I will need?” he asked me.

“Hmm…I would say no larger than a 16-foot truck.”

He got a 26-foot truck — and guess who was to drive it while he moved his car?

I stared at the behemoth as it covered its half of the driveway, its cab halfway out into the street. Put in a working toilet, shower and kitchen, and the cargo area of the truck was large enough to be an apartment in and of itself. I simply shook my head in disbelief.

As predicted — if you count the height of the truck itself — his belongings occupied more than half of the truck, as nothing was stacked more than halfway up to the ceiling. This can present a challenge in terms of the shifting of items during the move, which did happen — but there were no casualties. Nothing was broken or lost — but I digress, as usual.

I definitely lost a couple of gallons of sweat in the move. Okay — maybe a gallon. The weather was hot and humid. I really could have used some windshield wipers for my eyes. If there was a drought, I could have single-handedly ended it right there and then. My clothes were drenched — but all of the items eventually were aboard the truck.

He needed to store his belongings in a storage unit until he found a new place to live, which he is unable to do just yet due to a number of stressful complications which have converged onto him like a “perfect storm” — and that is one of the reasons why I helped him: my friend needed one less major thing about which to worry.

“How big of a storage unit do I need?” he asked.

“What are the sizes of the units being offered?”

“There’s 10’x10′, 10’x15’…”

I stopped him right there. “You do not need more than a 10’x15′ unit at most — if that.”

“Should I get climate controlled?”

“Yes — especially with the expensive electronics which you have.”

He got a great deal on a unit; but it was only 10’x10′.

“We are never going to fit it all in there,” he said nervously.

“Oh, yes we will,” I assured him.

Irrespective of the fact that I have packed for moves before for other people — including for this same friend a few years ago — veteran frequent fliers who know me know I usually only carry one bag with me. It does not matter for how long I am away or what I need. I enjoy viewing the confused and puzzled yet amazed and astonished looks on their faces when they see how much I pack into a carry-on bag.

No, the bag is not oversized. No, it is not heavy…

…and they will quiz me, wondering if I forget anything.

I do not remember the last time I forgot anything. I guess I forgot the last time I forgot anything when traveling. One day, I must follow my invaluable advice to forget how to forget; because if I forgot how to forget, then I could only remember things — right? Right?!?

Ahh…forget it.

It was so-o-o-o-o much fun listening to the truck grunting and groaning as it struggled up hills and blocked the views of motorists behind me. I especially enjoyed making sharp turns in it — balancing between ensuring that nothing was damaged in the cargo area while not denting or knocking down something such as a mailbox…

…which my friend had already done when the truck was empty.

Anyway, we arrived at the storage unit. Of course, it dwarfed the size of the wannabe 18-wheeler of a truck, which caused my friend to be anxious.

“It will not be a problem,” I assured him.

I taught him all of my techniques when it comes to packing; and yet none of them are any major secret. I intend to write a separate article about how I pack in order to help you; but one rule of mine when it comes to moving is very specific: never dispose of anything soft or made of cloth until the move has been completed. This includes pillows, blankets, clothing, sheets, towels and other linens. They are like gold when moving because they protect fragile times; and yet can be used to stuff into nooks and crannies.

That last part reminded my friend of English muffins. This ain’t no culinary class; but it did launch us into a war of puns:

“You are just buttering me up.”

“Oh, yeah? You are saving a lot of bread by moving these items yourself.”

“I feel like toast right about now.”

You get the idea. Stop rolling your eyes at me.


The culmination of a long day of hard work and heavy labor resulted in a packed 10’x10′ storage unit with room to spare — as I predicted — and all of his items are now safely stored. My friend was amazed and impressed, using similes such as lifesaver and miracle.

Most of all, he was happy. One less major thing over which to be concerned and stressed.

Packing to me — whether moving or traveling — is like doing a puzzle. I can get a mental note of what I need after surveying the situation set out before me; and I know how to fit all of the pieces together to form a cohesive unit of items which take up as little room as possible and yet will not break. I cannot explain exactly how I do it; but I can impart my techniques.

Would you be interested in articles on how to pack for a move; as well as how to pack as lightly as possible for a trip — at least, the way I do it? Please let me know in the Comments section below.

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

    1. …then I will consider posting one, Andy.

      My problem is that I feel that some — if not all — of the advice I intend to give is no secret; but I should not let that stop me from posting it.

      That flawed thought process is what had me launch the Stupid Tip of the Day series here at The Gate

  1. It is kind of lonely out here, but sure, I would like to know! I always traveled with a suitcase as I had to wear suits/ties every day, so it was just easier. I still haven’t gotten 5 days into a carry on, despite my attempts.

    1. Hopefully, some of what I do when I pack — as to be documented in a future article — will help, JohnSD.

      I just know that there will be people who will disagree — another flaw in my thinking as to why I have not posted at article pertaining to how I pack.

      I have transported suits in a carry-on bag and arrived at my destination without wrinkles; and how to do it came from this article which links to a valuable discussion on FlyerTalk:

      Here is an article pertaining to how to fold a shirt in seconds — again, not my own advice:

      Those two links should at least help you get started in packing better in the meantime until I post that article pertaining to packing…

  2. Wow, will you be my friend? Only a great friend will help one move. You are truly a great friend to help your friend move under what sounds like difficult circumstances.. If your friend ends up moving long distance, hire someone to do it. For example, you won’t save much of anything if you move yourself 2,000 miles.

    1. I am always on the lookout for good friends, Gene — although what I did for my friend was not the point of the article; but thank you anyway!

      My friend has hired movers for long-distance moves; but because this move was fewer than 40 miles, we decided to undertake it ourselves — and I was more than happy to be of assistance for him.

      I have never hired professional movers for myself — not so much to save money; but rather I am careful and do not break or damage anything. There were some casualties as a result of my friend using “professional” movers; and that irritated him.

      My friend was rather impressed with the care I exercised on moving his possessions — and as a result, not one item was broken…

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